1. EDITORIAL LETTER
WHAT IT IS. An editorial letter is always the first step in the editing process. A first draft, no matter how well thought out, is often written in a burst of inspiration. The editorial letter is the chance to start putting some real shape onto the collection of words you have amassed. My editorial letter consists of a six to eight page letter that will give feedback on broad strokes areas on topics such as characterization, structure, pacing, and setting. Editorial letters usually won't give you much feedback on individual scenes and prose style. (In the cases when they do, it's often to illustrate an issue that goes across the manuscript.) Editorial letters aren't just right for first drafts, however; they can be employed several times in the publishing process until the bones of the novel are truly set.
MY PRACTICE. I've written hundreds of editorial letters and have learned over the years that revisions made on the basis of an editorial letter have the best shot of fully rooting out a book's trouble issues. Otherwise those issues can linger--one might even say fester--up until the book is on the shelves. I go for complete honesty and total thoroughness with the editorial letter. I deliver my advice clearly and strive to come up with solutions.
After we've agreed, I read the manuscript in silence, with the internet off . This usually takes me a day or two, depending on the length of the manuscript. I read all manuscripts on my Kindle for iPhone and take notes through the iPhone notes app as I go along. When I'm done, I email the notes to myself and start a file in Scrivener. The file contains the manuscript, the notes, and what will be my editorial letter. I organize the notes by topic (Structure, Characterization, and so forth) and then go back and turn them into full sentences, adding in observations and thoughts that weren't contained in the notes.
Next, using the split-screen setting in Scrivener, I skim through the manuscript one final time, jotting down additional notes into the letter-in-progress. After I'm done going through the manuscript a second time, I'll refine the letter again, turning the notes into sentences. Writing the letter usually takes about a day. I'll sleep on it and then proofread, copyedit, fine-tune it for an hour or two the next day. Then it's off to you. After you've had time to process, we'll set up a follow-up phone call.
CONSIDER AN EDITORIAL LETTER IF . . .
- Your manuscript has never been looked at by a professional editor before.
- You have shopped your manuscript to agents who have told you you need to make major changes in plotting, characterization, structure, etc.
- You have never hired a professional editor and just want to dip your toe into the waters and figure out if it's best for you.
2. SUBSTANTIVE EDIT
WHAT IT IS. A substantive edit is a developmental edit of a manuscript that takes place on the pages of the actual manuscript. A mixture of comments and text additions and deletions are used to re-shape the manuscript and guide the reader through his or her revisions. Substantive edits are also commonly known as line edits. They usually occur when the manuscript is basically in its final structure. The substantive edit service also comes with a one to two page single-spaced editorial letter. Substantive edits will zero in on issues with continuity, prose style, transitions, and plot hiccups and holes.
MY PRACTICE. I edit forty double-spaced pages a day using Microsoft Word's Track Changes. Most of the substantive edit consists of comments in the comment bubbles, at a rate of 2-3 comments per page. I do some additions and deletions of the text as well. After I've gone through all the pages, I take a day to proof the edits. The next day, I work on the short editorial letter that accompanies the substantive edit. Once the letter is done, I email the edited manuscript as a Word document and editorial letter as a pdf to you. After you've had the opportunity to go over the edits, he or she will contact me, and we'll arrange the follow-up phone call.
CONSIDER A SUBSTANTIVE EDIT IF . . .
- Your manuscript has gone through several rounds of revision already.
- You have shopped your manuscript to agents who have told you they'll look at the manuscript with revisions.
- You want very specific advice that will not only improve this manuscript but strengthen your writing for future projects.
- You're confident that your manuscript does not need major structural changes.
A follow-up phone call is included. Here's a sample substantive edit of Deception so Deadly, a YA novel by Clara Kensie, and here's Kensie's revised version of the pages, with the editorial suggestions incorporated. Most substantive edits cost between $2500-4300. Obtain a quote for a Substantive Edit.
3. NONFICTION BOOK PROPOSAL EDITING
WHAT IT IS. As an agent and as a ghostwriter, I've worked on many nonfiction proposals. I'm familiar with the traditional structure and can ensure your proposal meets publishing standards. Nonfiction proposals are a delicate balance of marketing and compelling content, and my edits will help you achieve that balance. I will point how where to weave in appropriate statistics such as social media followings, suggest comparable titles, and refine and polish your writing. I can also help you figure out how to structure your book, honing in on the most saleable parts of your research and experience. Finally, I can ensure that book proposal is formatted to industry standards.
MY PRACTICE. I read the proposal and do a line edit consisting of comments in the margins using Microsoft Word's Track Changes. The level of my edits will depend on the level of your draft. If you are just in the beginning stages, there will be more comments about where to add in information or delete tangents. I will point out sections that you've missed. If your book proposal is at a more advanced level, I can zero in on perfecting the style, so that it moves along at a good pace.
Clients have also hired me to write some of their sections for them, such as the Audience and Comparable Books sections. In these case, I'll research on the web and write sections that will demonstrate to publishers that there is a ready audience for the proposed book and that it stands apartment from other books in its category.
When I'm done with the line edit, I'll prepare a short editorial letter summarizing the main takeaways from the edit.
CONSIDER NONFICTION BOOK PROPOSAL EDITING IF . . .
- You're confident in your idea, but have never written for a trade book audience before.
- You love writing the potential content of the book, but don't want to do the marketing sections.
- You want to put that extra polish on your writing before sending it out.
- You have a lot of great research, but are unsure how to organize it.
- Your agent takes awhile to get back to you, and you'd like quicker feedback.
Obtain a quote for Nonfiction Book Proposal Editing. A follow-up phone call is included.
4. MANUSCRIPT PHONE FEEDBACK
WHAT IT IS. Feedback on your manuscript via a phone call. Our phone call will include my observations on topics such as structure, characterization, and plot. You will have an opportunity to ask specific questions about the manuscript as well as any questions about the publishing process. Prices range between $370-$970, depending on the manuscript's word count. Contact me about phone feedback.
MY PRACTICE. After agreeing to work with one another, you'll send me your manuscript as a Word document. I will read it, take notes, and then contact you to set up a time during business hours to discuss the manuscript.
- You are on a budget.
- You're fairly confident that your manuscript is in good shape and just want one final opinion.
- You have a history of responding to edits better via conversation.
WHAT IT IS. A query letter is the publishing world's version of the job cover letter. Agents go through hundreds of them a year and reject the vast majority. My query letter development service ensures your query letter reaches its highest potential, thereby increasing your chances that it stands out and results in a a request for a partial or a full.
MY PRACTICE. I offer two rounds of editing on query letter drafts. The first is developmental editing, and the second to polish it up--more of a copy edit. In the developmental editing round, I'll go over the query with a fine-tooth comb, making sure the basics structure is in place and checking elements such as comp titles and biographical details. I'll then return the copy, marked-up through Microsoft Word's Track Changes, to you.
- You just can't get your query letter down to one page.
- You feel on shaky ground writing about yourself and your accomplishments.
- You want to make sure your letter fits industry standards.
- You're having trouble discerning what plot points needs to be included.
Query Letter Development costs $175. Obtain a quote at the home page.
6. SYNOPSIS DEVELOPMENT
WHAT IT IS. Many, but not all, agents ask for a synopsis of the manuscript on offer. Authors can struggle over creating compelling synopsises for their books. They get bogged down in detail, uncertain of what to include and what to leave out. Their synopses become overwhelming to write and may be accordingly overwhelming to read. My synopsis development
MY PRACTICE. I'll edit your synopsis draft so that it is clear and compelling. I'll need a draft, which I'll edit in two rounds, the first mainly developmental edits, and the second mainly copyedits. As part of this service, I go over your synopsis many times, putting queries in the margins through Microsoft Word's Track Changes and adding and deleting language. I'll then send it over to you for you to answer the queries and sign off on all the changes. Once you get it back to me, I'll go over a second time, mostly to copyedit. Then, the final version is off to you.
- You're having trouble getting your synopsis down to one page.
- You can no longer see the forest for the trees.
- The agent of your dreams wants a synopsis.
Synopsis Development costs $175. Head back over to the home page to obtain a quote.
7. Chapter by Chapter Edit
WHAT IT IS. My Chapter by Chapter Edit is a substantive edit of a partial of your manuscript. The service consists of notes in the margins, additions and deletions within the lines, and a short editorial note included with return of the manuscript.
MY PRACTICE. After you send me your partial manuscript as a single Word attachment, I will read it, edit it, copyedit it, and then write the editorial note that accompanies the substantive edit.
- You want to make sure your first chapters going to an agent are in tiptop condition.
- You are more concerned with getting feedback on your writing style than on big-picture issues like plotting and structure.
- The agent of your dreams wants a synopsis.
The price of a Chapter by Chapter varies by word count. Fill out a form on the home page for a quote.
8. PHONE CONSULTATION
The publishing industry can be confusing to first-time authors. I offer phone consulting for $100 per hour. I'll advise on the steps to approaching an agent, what to expect as you submit your material, and answer any other questions you may have. Obtain a quote for phone consultations.